I am admittedly a television junkie. I like to watch just about everything, except soap operas. They, I do declare, have a profound effect on the opposite sex’s opinion of life in general, at least in the early afternoon. When they are broadcast, nary a sound is heard or a movement seen. However, the occasional sympathetic tear is shed for the coma victim (whose only role is to be hooked up to numerous machines for decades). When it’s finally discovered that it’s time to disconnect (which in real time, takes months before they actually do it), the victim either comes out of their comatose state in some altered state of mind or has really bad taste in hairdos. Then to top it all off, they’re actually the illegitimate heir to the family’s vast estate, and so on and on and on…
So after having said all that, you can see that watching anything else is good for you and your sanity. Changing the channel to seeing something worthy of actually talking about for a few days at least, is The Last Explorer, a docu-drama made by Rezolution Pictures about Neil Diamond’s uncle, George Elson. He was the intrepid explorer of the last century, bent on traversing into northern Labrador, to see the last known tribe left in North America who had no known previous contact with white men. Yes, I’m talking about our wild brethren, the Naskapi of Kawawachikamach (Schefferville to those not with the Knowledge), who speak relatively the same language as the Cree.
George tried twice to see the Naskapi. The first expedition met with tragic results; the second would propel his team onto the front pages of the New York Times as the winner against another famous explorer who seemed to have used Yale oarsmen to get around. George, on the other hand, was a master of his element – the rough outdoors and bush. Being in charge of getting through what would be normally extremely difficult environment (which is still rough today), he made it a lot more easier using the ways of the James Bay Cree to end up with a clear and deciding victory as the last explorer of the north.
The days of exploration may be over, thanks to satellite technology for mapping and aircraft to get around. But no matter what year, the land is always unforgiving and wild. It is always best to make sure you know what you’re doing when out on the land. Otherwise the land will leave you stranded without provisions or shelter, turning what might have been a leisurely trip by snowmobile into an unbearable trek back home through what basically is our backyard.
I could go on about being stranded on the islands of James Bay, or sleeping underneath the trees tending fire all night and trying to snooze while it’s raining dogs and more dogs (it’s too rough for cats) or waiting out a fog on a windswept craggy rock island with nothing more than an overturned canoe for shelter. But heck, this is tame compared to what George had to go through on his first unsuccessful trip through the vast wilderness of Labrador.
If you see The Last Explorer, I bet you might find it a work of fiction. But believe me, when I say that no novelist could come up with this true-to-life story of the last explorer. Watch it, record it, play it over again and thank God for outboard motors and snowmobiles.